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MonkeyNotes-Seize the Day by Saul Bellow
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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES

Chapter 1

Summary

Wilhelm emerges from his hotel room on the twenty-third floor of the Gloriana Hotel and goes down to the lobby. The elevator sinks and sinks and the carpet in the lobby billows towards his feet. The outside looks like an anchor chain to him, while the Ansonia Hotel across the street looks like it is "in deep water" as the sun glances off it. Wilhelm walks to the newsstand. He sees his reflection in the glass of the cigar counter and calls himself a hippopotamus. He lights a cigar, buys a coke and a newspaper, and talks to Rubin, the newsstand operator. He lingers there to avoid entering the dining room and seeing his father. He intuitively feels that there may be some trouble awaiting him.

As Wilhelm fidgets at the newsstand, he thinks about his investment in the stock market, which was recommended by Dr. Tamkin, a pseudo-psychologist. Now he fears his investment in lard may be lost; foolishly, he still appreciates the sympathy Tamkin offers him, probably because his father offers him none.


Wilhelm's father is a retired physician, respected, wealthy and gracefully aged. He is also self-centered and uncompassionate. He wishes to spend the last years of his life in the peace and security which he feels he has earned. He does not want to be bothered with his son, Wilhelm, who he sees as a failure. Wilhelm dropped out of college, failed in his marital life, and has never made it in the business world. Dr. Adler also thinks he has become an un- hygienic "slob". Wilhelm yearns to be loved by this man.

Wilhelm, still at the newsstand, also remembers Maurice Venice, an agent for Kaskaskia films who had duped him by giving him false hopes. Much to the horror of his parents, Wilhelm had given up his studies and gone to Hollywood to become an actor. Unfortunately, he failed the screen test. He later learned that Venice was arrested for pandering and his beloved Nita Christenberry was sentenced to three years for prostitution.

Wilhelm thinks about his lack of resolve. He had decided not to marry Margaret, but he married her anyway. He had decided not to invest with Dr. Tamkin, but he had given him a check and the power of attorney for his last 700 dollars.

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